Come with us and let’s discover how this amazing time of the year is celebrated in the Brazilian way.
As for most regions of the world, in Brazil, the end of December, specifically the 25th day, means it’s the time for family, religious moments and extra food and drinks: the Christmas season. Although the way of celebrating it is similar to the way that North America does, wouldn’t it be interesting to notice some particular customs of the Brazilian Christmas?
Of course it would, I mean, isn’t it amazing learning a new language such as Portuguese!? But, as I once heard, learning a new language is also about learning a new culture.
So, let us help you with this journey. Here are some topics related to how the Christmas holiday is celebrated in the Brazilian background. Enjoy discovering more about this incredible place!
When most people think about Christmas time, they think about a winter wonderland with kids building snowmen, getting into snowball fights, going sledding, etc.. Yeah, there’s no doubt that Christmas is widely associated with snow and winter time.
Look how Christmassy these frozen christmas hollies are.
However, it is not the same thing in Brazil. In this country, the end of the year means hot weather. There is no snow during the Brazilian Christmas season. Because of its location in the planet’s southern hemisphere, Brazil celebrates Christmas in summer time. So, I guess Santa must take it easy on his cold weather clothes when he gets to this Latin American country. Another interesting thing about the weather is that the Brazilian climates and biomes do not provide coniferous trees for them to hang their Christmas decorations on. That might make you wonder “So, how do they get their Christmas trees?” Well, that leads us to our next topic!
Rio de Janeiro as an example of how Brazil looks in December.
Actually, the Christmas decorations of Brazil are the traditional ones, too. Yeah, the usual Christmas lights, tinsel, bells, candles, a wreath hanging on the door, Christmas stars, Christmas-patterned tablecloths, etc. The difference there is: the Christmas trees are all made of plastic. One classic item that is not common in Brazil are candy canes! Some people may decorate with plastic ones, but unlike in the United States, it is not common to find actual edible candy canes! Quite surprising, isn’t it? All right, but now that we started talking about food, let’s continue on to the next topic – what Brazilians eat!
The nativity scene is also a traditional Christmas decoration in Brazil.
All right then, now I think we’re getting to the highlights here. Christmas food is a very important thing if you want to celebrate this holiday in Brazil. Brazilian families usually get together to prepare their menus for the Christmas dinner, there’s nothing better to get into the Christmas mood than parents, children and grandparents preparing food together, right? So let’s see what are the most common dishes at a Christmas feast in Brazil. That meal includes turkey, lasagna, ham, pernil, vegetables, rice with raisins (some people love the dried vine fruit but some just hate it), Chester (a round ball of turkey breast), potato salads, pastel, and others. There are a lot of cold beverages too, such as soft drinks and juices for the children and wine, champagne or beer for the adults. They don’t have eggnog, yet Brazilians have got a very special kind of dessert: panettone, an Italian-inspired cake. Do you feel a bit hungry now?! Well, I do. We better change to the next topic!
Panettone: a customary dessert for christmas in Brazil.
Even though most Brazilian family members prepare the Christmas dinner together, there are still other members who will participate in the main celebrations. When people from Brazil meet for Christmas, it’s normally the entire family that gets involved, including not only the immediate family but also cousins (including the second cousins sometimes), uncles, aunts and other people related to the family. Well, that’s a good start for a long Christmas evening, huh?! After the moment that all the guests arrive, the large group of people have fun with a gift-exchange similar to Secret Santa that is called “Amigo oculto” or “Amigo secreto”. For this enjoyable time, each person needs to buy a gift for another person (chosen randomly in a lottery) without that person knowing. When it’s time for exchanging presents, the person who bought the present will likely describe the person that he is going to give it to until everybody guesses who it is, then he will finally give the gift to that person. Doesn’t it sound fun? Traditionally, the Christmas dinner doesn’t happen until midnight, and for the rest of the evening, the Brazilians continue to celebrate late into the night with music, drinking and animated conversations.
Now, this might be a little disappointing for you if you’re a child reading this blog post right now, but the day of the 25th the kids don’t wake up early to get their presents under the Christmas tree. Most of the time, they get their gifts at the “Amigo Secreto” party. The day after Christmas Eve is more of a low-key and relaxed mood and people eat the leftovers from the previous night.
We hope that you have enjoyed this cultural learning moment and, although the Christmas holiday in Brazil is very similar to the North American one, it is always amazing to notice how cultures are beautiful with their particularities. And never forget, learning a new language is also about learning a new culture.